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Guidance Bites PetsMart

The pet store chain lowers its 2004 forecast because of a slower-than-expected holiday season.
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shares fell Tuesday after the company lowered full-year earnings guidance, citing "a slower-than-expected holiday selling season."

The company now expects fourth-quarter same-store sales growth of 5% and 2004 EPS of 1.16 to $1.17, including an after-tax gain. Previously, the company had forecast $1.19 to $1.20 a share. The consensus estimate is $1.18, based on a Thomson First Call survey.

"Like many retailers, we experienced a slower-than-expected holiday selling season, but results improved as the quarter progressed and we are now back to normal levels of traffic and sales," the company said.

The Arizona-based pet store chain said the after-tax gain was a previously announced $3.6 million from a legal settlement.

The company reports results for the quarter and fiscal year ending Jan. 30 on March 2.